Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why We Keep Moving

I have to explain to people all the time why we keep moving all over the place (church friends, my family, the cable guy, apartment landlords... you name it). So in case you were wondering, here are the moves we have made since we got married and the reasons why!

 1. When we got married in April 2013 we lived in Provo, UT.

2. Starting in January 2014, Derek got an internship with Valero Energy Corporation in San Antonio, TX. So we moved there for four months. I happened to be pregnant, so Benson ended up being born there.

3. Then, in May 2014 we returned to Provo, UT where Derek took an internship in North Salt Lake with Big West Oil.

4. In August 2014 Derek took another internship with Valero in Texas City, TX, which is where we reside right now.

5. At the end of December 2014, this year, we will again to return to Provo, UT where Derek will resume his schooling at BYU and in a few more semesters finish his degree in Chemical Engineering with a great deal of work experience and connections with some great companies!

There is a chance that next summer we will make another move for another job/internship. This is madness! At least I'm getting cultured, right?

Has your family ever had to move so many times in such a short time period? Any tips from personal experience?

Clearing Up My Adult Acne

Waiiiiit. Adults don't get acne! Most adults don't. Some of us do.

My friends in college: "You don't have acne, Merilee, your skin is fine!"
Me: "Wrong, my makeup is just really good."

When I started college in August of 2009, a horrible, frustrating, annoying, embarrassing delightful thing happened. I started to get acne, for really the first time ever.  

I assumed it would just clear up and go away, but four years later, I was still assuming that... and I still had it. By the time I married Derek in April of 2013, he had only seen me with no makeup (including bare skin) maybe once or twice. These times were specially selected when I had no extensive breakouts or anything. Obviously, now that I lived with him... he was going to see me with no makeup... a lot. Not cool. Even for the first few months we were married I did everything I could to avoid him when my makeup was off. I didn't feel pretty or desirable, and it was embarrassing.

One day, my life changed forever when I came upon The Regimen.

The Regimen.

The Regimen is amazing. The Regimen has changed my life. The Regimen is not a set of falsely advertised products to buy and try, it's actually a skincare technique. You can read all about it here at acne.org. I spent hours researching and reading about it and was so impressed because even though they do sell face wash, treatment, and moisturizer, the site owner also recommends specific drugstore alternatives (down to the brand and exact product, guys!) you can buy at Wal-Mart or Target, and using the technique he describes YOU WILL GET CLEAR SKIN! 


So, I was like, this looks like the real deal! It's not gimmicky. There are no ads on the website. They sell products but also tell you drugstore alternatives that do the exact same thing. And I watched on YouTube several video reviews of people who cleared up horrible acne with this technique, The Regimen. I wanted to try it! And I did.

Guys. Four years of acne on my face was cleared up in TWO WEEKS with their sample product which I paid $5 shipping for. I could have died with happiness. I kicked myself for not finding it sooner!

That's me with zero makeup on. No shame, even if I look a little stupid!

Check out The Regimen at acne.org and do your own thorough research, and if you think it's for you (or your kid, or someone else you know with acne) share it or try it! I've recently had a hard time finding the list on the website of all the drugstore alternative products and the list of comedogenic ingredients you should avoid in your skincare products and makeup, so I've direct linked that here https://www.acne.org/supplies-guide.inc.html

Please, enjoy clear skin. It rocks!

What I currently use:
Face wash: Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser Sensitive Skin (or Oil Free) 8 oz
Treatment: Benzoyl Peroxide from acne.org 8 oz
Moisturizer: Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer with Sunscreen Sensitive 4 oz

Tell me, do you or someone close to you have a problem with acne? Are you excited to try it out? Was there another way you resolved your own acne? If you have any questions, please contact me directly or leave a comment!

*Note: Do not use benzoyl peroxide when pregnant
*Note: Can cause dry skin, redness at first. Please read about The Regimen at acne.org for full details

Monday, October 6, 2014

Benson's Birth Story

I wanted to share this story because having a natural birth with Benson (no epidural, induction, C-section, etc.) is one of my greatest accomplishments. I realize not everyone chooses or is able to have a natural birth, and that's okay, this was just my choice. It's long for those who like the details, but the bolded parts can help you get through it quicker if you like to scan. Enjoy!

Born 3-8-14
6 lbs 14 oz
19 inches long
San Antonio, TX

Early Labor
Benson wasn't due until March 20th, but it all started on Friday morning, March 7th, at about 4:00am when I awoke with a small contraction. I figured it was a Braxton Hicks contraction because everyone told me that since it was my first baby, he'd certainly be late. Part of me thought, whoa I could be in labor, the other part of me thought it was probably false labor. A few weeks earlier my mom had told me that Braxton Hicks contractions were sporadic and go away, but real labor contractions come and stay and that's how I would know the difference. These ones stayed. I was in denial all day with constant contractions. I was actually in denial until I checked into the hospital later that evening!

Heading to the Hospital
Around 3:00, the contractions started to change and it was at this point that I heard my mother's voice saying "if they don't go away and are consistent, it's real labor." And I thought... hmmmm... could it be? They were getting more painful too. Derek was staying late at work but it was at this time that I texted him ans asked him to come home. He said "Ok. Are you alright?" I said "Yes. But I've been having contractions consistently all day and they're getting stronger and closer together. It's PROBABLY a false alarm but I'd like to have you here in case we need to go in." He said "Ok. I'll be there." And he zipped right home. At 4:00pm the contractions were really close together, usually 2 minutes apart. I called my midwives to let them know my status and see what they recommended. They said I could labor at home longer and then decide. From abot 4:00-6:00pm I labored at home, took a bath, and we tried to decide if this was real labor! At 5:00 I called again and told them this was the real deal and I think I needed to come in soon. Derek and I kept flip flopping but we did eventually decide it was time. We grabbed all our gear and threw it in the car and headed in, arriving to St. Lukes Baptist Hospital between 6:30 and 7:00pm. I wish I could capture in a bottle Derek's scurrying to get our stuff ready to go and in the car. It was really precious. 

Checking into the Hospital
After we got to the hospital, the midwife on call Erin made her way in to check me out. I had not yet met Erin since I'd just started with this practice 4 weeks earlier after moving from Provo, UT to San Antonio, TX but I was preoccupied with labor so I didn't really care who was delivering. My very first check at the hospital was at 7:30pm and I was 100% effaced and 2cm dilated, so that was good. Baby's position was -1, so he wasn't descended too far yet. Erin gave me three options. One, admit now and finish laboring now. Two, change back into your clothes and not be admitted quite yet. Walk around the hospital and labor a little bit more. And three, go home and labor some more there. I didn't feel quite comfortable going home because we did live 30 minutes away, and I didn't want to check in completely at only 2cm. So, we chose option two, to walk around the hospital and labor a little bit there before being fully admittedErin told us to come back at 9:00pm to be checked again. We drove to the CVS down the road and got some water bottles, snacks, etc. Then we checked in again. At 9:00pm I was 3 1/2 cm, so I was dilating at about 1cm an hour which is good. Slow and steady, not very fast, but steady so she was decently pleased with that. So from there, we decided to get admitted. She actually gave us the option to continue walking around the hospital and laboring but I was ready to get comfortable, get my own space and get in the zone for my natural birthing techniques. 

Later Labor
I was the only laboring woman in the unit at that time which was cool. I hated getting monitored, it was very inconvenient and invasive. That was every hour. I started to get into the zone and Derek was right by my side the whole way. We were fully expecting our Moms to be there to support me but because the baby surprised us early, neither were able to make it. So it was basically just the two of us. Erin didn't help me during labor at all (not her job) so Derek did everything he could! He kind of left me alone mentally, but physically he was right there for me every instant that I needed him. During labor, words were very short. There were a lot of single words or some finger motions that I used to communicate and he knew exactly what I was saying and exactly what I needed. It was amazing. I labored on the ball, walked a little, took a shower, etc. I used the Hypnobirthing technique to have a natural labor with Benson. It was extremely difficult still, but I was determined. To make a long story short, from 9:30pm Friday to 5:30am Saturday morning I labored, using Hypnobirthing. Then, I was definitely starting to transition. at 5:30am something was changing- I could feel it picking up and reaching an intensity I was not prepared for.

Transition and Delivery
At 5:30, Erin broke my water. I was 8 1/2 cm. I was really hoping it would break on its own, but it didn't. I was already really struggling and it was getting so intense I didn't know if I could do it anymore. The transition phase is indescribable. There is nothing like it I've ever experienced or seen! I felt like Hypnobirthing had prepared me for the other contractions and that was all very do-able. I had no idea what was coming next. This was not like the seemingly "baby" contractions I'd had up to that point, this was insane. I was not prepared. Is it even possible to be prepared for that? It was so hard. With the previous very difficult contractions, with 3 very deep breaths, focus, and relation I could get through a contraction. But this was not the case. I tried that, and it didn't work. I could barely breathe- period, but 3 breaths did nothing for me now. These contractions were lasting 20+ breaths and way more painful. I was basically screaming and writhing in pain. Not to be negative, but that's real. I have no idea what time I started to get into the pushing phase but my guess is about 6:10am or so. I couldn't really hear or connect with the midwife and wasn't sure if I was supposed to push, but I felt like I should, so I did. I didn't know if he was 1 push away or 10 pushes away. I didn't know where his head was, if he was a few inches up or crowning, I had no idea. Then, in one big push he just popped out! There was no delivery of the head and then the body, he just came out all at once. I didn't know this at the time, but apparently Erin didn't have time to get her gloves on so he kind of just plopped right onto the bed. It's no big deal because it was just an inch or two away I'm sure, and she just scooped him up and I heard his first little cry.

Post Delivery
Me. This is how I was at this point: I had just felt his entire body come out of me in one big whoosh of relief but I was so exhausted mentally and physically, I was practically out-of-body. I was facing away when I pushed, so I didn't see any of it. I was completely hysterical, crying and bawling. It was physical and emotional. The physical relief was instant but emotionally I was shot. Erin said "turn around so I can put your baby on you." But I said "I can't, I can't, I can't move." I think I looked back at Derek before I actually turned around. It took a good half minute before I was able to turn around and see my baby, and there he was. Erin was holding him and she put him right in my arms. He was perfect. His little body wasn't covered in any icky stuff, it was perfect. I just cried. He was a little purple and his hair was matted, but he was perfect. He stopped crying and his eyes were open and he was just staring. I was still bawling too. I was just looking at Derek and we were both in awe. I remember saying "My baby, this is my baby." "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh" between sobs. He had a little cone head and a perfect semicircle on his skull where the bones were overlapping. 

Post Birth Care
Erin delivered my placenta and it was super easy, basically just came out on it's own. We were taken care of well in the hospital and enjoyed the nurses and their awesome care, and the great food. By Saturday night, Derek's mom Trece was able to hop a flight and join us at the hospital. We were able to go home on Sunday afternoon with our little guy who we had named Benson.

Luckily, my recovery physically was easy and fast, but I honestly thought that through Hypnobirthing I would have a very peaceful birth and could avoid a lot of the pain of labor and delivery. After experiencing it, I have no idea how anyone could "avoid the pain." Bless them, but I couldn't do it apparently! It was the hardest thing I've ever done. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. I did feel a great sense of strength and empowerment for having him naturally and with very little outside help. I will be doing that again. To know I fully felt and experienced every ounce of his birth is precious to me and in a sense, I cherish that pain. I do not regret having a natural birth at all, it was the best choice for me. I am definitely an advocate of natural birth! I don't feel like Benson's birth was a flowery, even a super spiritual experience. It was, but not how I pictured. But I'll never forget how within minutes I was bonded with my sweet little baby that I had worked months and months to grow, and hours and hours to deliver. And it only took an instant to know he was mine forever.

If you have any questions about natural birth, midwifery care, or anything else, feel free to contact me and I would love to talk with you about it!